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Lab Anim. 2014 Jan;48(1):50-60. doi: 10.1177/0023677213498717. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Scientists and the 3Rs: attitudes to animal use in biomedical research and the effect of mandatory training in laboratory animal science.

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  • 1IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular (Laboratory Animal Science Group), Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.


The 3Rs principle of replacement, reduction, and refinement has increasingly been endorsed by legislators and regulatory bodies as the best approach to tackle the ethical dilemma presented by animal experimentation in which the potential benefits for humans stand against the costs borne by the animals. Even when animal use is tightly regulated and supervised, the individual researcher's responsibility is still decisive in the implementation of the 3Rs. Training in laboratory animal science (LAS) aims to raise researchers' awareness and increase their knowledge, but its effect on scientists' attitudes and practice has not so far been systematically assessed. Participants (nā€‰=ā€‰206) in eight LAS courses (following the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations category C recommendations) in Portugal were surveyed in a self-administered questionnaire during the course. Questions were related mainly to the 3Rs and their application, attitudes to animal use and the ethical review of animal experiments. One year later, all the respondents were asked to answer a similar questionnaire (57% response rate) with added self-evaluation questions on the impact of training. Our results suggest that the course is effective in promoting awareness and increasing knowledge of the 3Rs, particularly with regard to refinement. However, participation in the course did not change perceptions on the current and future needs for animal use in research.


3Rs; courses; laboratory animals; survey; training

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